By Theodore Druch, USA/Mexico (Published in Issue 6)
Picture a bright Mexican sun pouring its light and warmth upon rolling Pacific breakers on a palm-shaded beach. Picture a postcard, in other words.
You’re in Puerto Vallarta on a gorgeous day at the end of February.
Move inland from the beach, about a mile, and picture a large white library building nestled among towering Mango trees. There are people milling about, gathering in small groups, talking earnestly on the expansive lawns, the large shaded portico, and within. These are not all ordinary folk. Among them are successful authors, editors, publishers, and literary agents, here to address the Sixth Annual Puerto Vallarta Writer’s Conference entitled “Becoming a Writer, Seriously.”
That title was chosen, by the way, after a long and serious debate that it should be called “How to Write Good.”
Well, maybe it wasn’t all that long and serious.
Hailing from at least five countries, they number, among other pursuits, lawyers, medical practitioners, construction engineers, teachers, television presenters, world travelers, artists, and writers. Most of them will never see sixty again, and they have lived long and productive lives, done it all, and have something to say about human experience and the worlds in which they’ve lived.
Most of the published writers are expat residents and make up the core of the Puerto Vallarta Writer’s Group. Attendance at Saturday morning meetings varies from about twenty five during the hot summer months to approaching one hundred as the regular visitors return to spend the winter away from the snow and cold of the US and Canada
Since the eighties, a small group of expat writers had been gathering in a haphazard way, until it was finally glued together by the strong personality of Don Gallery, son of the great comedic actress Zazu Pitts. Don grew up in Hollywood, dating girls who were named Shirley temple or Elizabeth Taylor or such. A life-long love of literature brought him to the Round Table West, a group of writers living in Los Angeles, and his experiences there taught him what a writers’ group should look like. He went to work in Puerto Vallarta, and soon, what had been a very loose association, coalesced into a cohesive group that has been meeting regularly for many years at the International friendship Club.
Don, now in his eighties, continues to be the inspiration that keeps us going, and his tireless efforts have made sure that the wheels turn smoothly
Our purpose is simple, to provide a forum in which writers can preview their work to each other and solicit criticism and advice in an effort to become the best they can be. We also strive to learn the latest marketing techniques during roundtable discussions held on the first Saturday of each month. For those of us who came of age before the internet - long before the internet - navigating Facebook is a major challenge.
It all seems to be working. Many of our authors are published by traditional publishers, and several more are self-published, actually making a living off their writing. Well, maybe not a living, exactly, but it’s nice to have those royalty checks coming in once in a while, even if they’ll only pay for dinner at a nice restaurant.
We are presently putting together an anthology of the best short stories by our members, which will be published in Mexico.
Besides those of us with literary ambitions, many of our members are professionals who have published books about self-help, social awareness, healing, thermal energy, and a myriad other topics, so our Saturday meetings are usually wildly eclectic.
And let us not forget the poets, an altogether too neglected class these days, who regularly season our prosody with song.
If you would like to learn more, you can visit our website at http://www.puerto-vallarta-writers-group.com/index.php?ID=1 or visit our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_136226919754688
Best of all, if you ever find yourself in Puerto Vallarta on a Saturday morning, drop in at the Los Mangoes library at 10:30. You’ll be glad you did.
We write good.